I’m writing in response to the Sept. 20 article regarding the construction at Tiffany Park. Economic Development can benefit from pacing with nearby ecosystems because we draw our resources and quality of life from them.
Development cannot out-build quality of life, and so needs to take into account other perspectives on placemaking that can better integrate quality of life for future residents. Parks, trails, and native habitat support recreation and public safety by retaining soil structures and preventing mudslides and erosion. We also need clean air and rain. Trees are part of the brand and culture here in the Pacific Northwest, and I enjoy parks and trails as one of Renton’s greatest community resources.
We need to respect residents who are currently here, such as by considering other ways than in-filling or sprawl to make economic development sustainable for the future. In-filling has led to challenges with disconnection between neighborhoods, most notably limiting basic mobility (walking) with overgrown sidewalks that do not connect, such as in the Highlands. Learning from Tiffany Park means rethinking ties to construction and jobs as short-term, and heftier penalties than a $100 per tree for a shared community heritage.
Nearby, Seattle Metro struggles with its reliance on single-family housing to sprawl instead of grow the city, which has arguably led to fiascoes in traffic ‘Go’ lanes, and the second headquarters for Amazon.
Besides, construction on zero lots and large housing associations may be for not. It is estimated that less than half of millennials won’t own a house (or mortgage product) in the future.
Besides a waste to resources, housing developments as we know them won’t likely be used, and so may cost us more to maintain later.
Meanwhile, homelessness continues to rise in King County.
These examples suggest a widening gap for access to housing overlaps with construction, which also poses a strain to city services as housing sprawls farther away from city centers, which in-filling may be attempting to avoid.
Designing systems for placemaking means considering the quality of life and sustaining resources for future residents. This means not leaving behind a legacy of large empty houses because bigger may not be better with no other place to go.
I invite conversations with community and civic leaders and council candidates to consider economic development as a system instead of the extremes between in-filling or sprawl: If we had an ideal for an economy of the future what would that look like? Where do you see the overlap with economic development in placemaking?
While it can be difficult to slow down to innovate for more medium density and sustainable development, these kinds of conversations can lead to other possibilities, such as stabilizing house prices, more housing options for a wider range of people on a spectrum of need including young professionals and families, preserving community icons and resources, tourism, civic engagement, and maybe even fresh air.